War of words erupts over latest private health insurance data


Privately insured hospital patients continue to experience rising out-of-pocket hospital costs.

On average, we are paying $315 for each hospital visit – up nearly 2 per cent over the previous year.

You can add excess or co-payment costs for hospital accommodation, as well.

The latest Australia Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) report makes for interesting reading.

Key findings include:

  • Health insurance premiums rose 2.77 per cent over the June quarter.
  • Private health insurance membership for hospital treatment has dropped, and only 44.2 per cent of Australians (11 million) now have health insurance.
  • Eisodes of care in the private sector are increasing, which tracks the growing number of insured older people as a proportion of all privately insured people.
  • A closer look at the APRA report shows medical services make up more than half of the average out-of-pocket cost for hospital visits. The gap amount for medical services varies, depending on the medical specialty and treatment location (see graphs below).

Older Australians are making the most hospital benefit claims, while younger people continue to drop their insurance cover.

For a breakdown of out-of-pocket payments, check out the graphs below.

Why the cost increases?


According to the Sydney Morning Herald, overall medical and hospital costs have risen 36 per cent in the past six years.

Factors reportedly contributing to cost increases include: declining membership and increasing benefit payouts, the public’s rejection of insurance products with exclusions, private patients being treated in public hospitals, and administrative red tape.

Factors reportedly contributing to cost increases include: declining membership and increasing benefit payouts, the public’s rejection of insurance products with exclusions, private patients being treated in public hospitals, and administrative red tape.

War of words erupts over causes


The private hospitals industry group, Private Healthcare Australia, was quick to blame the “inflated” cost of medical technologies and devices, such as prosthetics.

It said that, “one of the most commonly used implants – cardiac stents, are five times the price here as they are in New Zealand.”

The Medical Technology Association of Australia hit back, saying insurers paid $13 million less for medical devices over the past financial year, making it the only sector to contribute to keeping private health insurance down, while insurers continue to post big increases in annual profits.

As always, the truth is likely to be somewhere in between.

Out-of-pocket Health Costs campaign continues


Ongoing increases in out-of-pocket costs are a major concern to National Seniors Australia because you, our members, tell us it is your single biggest concern.

That is why we pushed for important health cost reforms at the federal election.

As a result, the Federal Government has promised reforms to tackle cost issues, including a website of medical specialist doctor fees.

To keep up to date with developments – and to lend your voice to the cause, join our campaign today.

Share your stories with us and encourage your friends and family to join the campaign as well.

Together, we can make a difference by increasing awareness of out-of-pocket health costs and lobbying for change at all levels of government.

Learn more

Join us today

Share your voice and select the benefits that matter to you with a National Seniors membership.

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